The MARCS Institute PhD Scholarship on ‘Trusted Autonomous Systems in Command and Control' - 2020_05a

Scholarship code: 2020_05a_MARCS

The MARCS Institute invites applications from highly motivated graduates seeking to undertake a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree to work with Dr Chris Stanton in the field of human-robot interaction.

The project: Trusted artificial intelligence (AI) is a research issue of increasing importance. People must have confidence that an AI system will operate as intended. This applied research project will focus on how a single person can effectively supervise numerous autonomous robots performing a dangerous task that may take days to complete. Due to the difficulty of monitoring multiple robots simultaneously, this raises issues related to attention and workload for the human operator. Furthermore, as our robots are operating underwater at great distances, this raises communication challenges in a task where decision-making mistakes can have dire consequences. The aim of this research project is to assist in the design and evaluation of the human-machine interface, identifying the relevant information flows between man and machine, allowing the human operator to make informed and accurate decisions. A tax-free stipend of $45,000 per annum is being offered. This PhD project is only available to Australian citizens (this is an Australian Defence research project).

About MARCS: The MARCS Institute studies the scientific bases of human communication. Situated on four campuses, MARCS research on brain, behaviour and development encompasses such areas as how we learn language and handle foreign accents, how to program robots for human interaction, how we can enhance communication with infants, those with hearing impairments, and the elderly, and how music and dance communicate universally. We apply our work to advanced technology, biomedical engineering, and improving physical and mental health by designing electronics inspired by neural systems, building better biomedical devices, analysing heightened performance in the creative arts, and addressing impaired performance in developmental delay and sensory deficit.

What does the scholarship provide?

  • The successful applicant will receive a tax-free stipend of $45,000 per annum for up to three years to support living costs, supported by the Research Training Program (RTP) Fee Offset.
  • Support for conference attendance, fieldwork and additional costs as approved by MARCS
  • Access to the extensive range of MARCS specialised equipment and laboratory facilities.
  • Additional funding to support training and equipment purchases.
  • A rich environment of support and academic expertise via supervisory panels, seminars, colloquia, international and industry collaborations.

Eligibility criteria

We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds. This is a multidisciplinary project, requiring skills in psychology, human factors, experimental research design, and an understanding of robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. It is not expected that the successful applicant will have experience in all these fields, and suitable training will be provided.

We welcome applicants with skills in any of the following disciplines:  psychology, human factors, software engineering, autonomous robotics, and/or artificial intelligence.

The successful applicant should:

  • Must be an Australian citizen (this is an Australian Defence research project).
  • hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian First Class Bachelor (Honours) degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least 25% research component, (iii) Research Masters degree, or (iv) equivalent overseas qualifications.
  • have demonstrated research experience in either psychology, human performance,  computer science, autonomous robotics, and/or artificial intelligence
  • have a background in either psychology, human factors, human performance, computer science, robotics, and/or artificial intelligence
  • be willing to learn the multidisciplinary skills required for this research project
  • be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.

How to apply

1. Follow the step-by-step instructions on the how to apply for a project scholarship.

Incomplete applications or applications that do not conform to the above requirements will not be considered.

Contact Dr Chris Stanton <> to discuss any questions regarding eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.

Please contact the Graduate Research School via email at for more information.

Applications Close on 31st March 2021

*Applications close at 11.59pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEDT).